Teeth Whitening: Is Over The Counter, Take-Home Kits, or Professional Whitening Better? 

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Get fast and effective teeth whitening in Vancouver, WA

With so many tooth-whitening products on the market today it can be difficult to know which is one is going to be best for you based on your dental health. You should try to get a good understanding what kind of results you can really expect from the different types of teeth whitening process before you begin.

I’ve put some resources together for you that I think you will find helpful, so please start by taking a couple of minutes to watch this video on how tooth-whitening works from the American Dental Association, who recommend that tooth-whitening processes are best performed under professional supervision and following a pre-treatment dental examination and diagnosis. 

How Teeth Whitening Works

Why Did My Teeth Change Color?

Over time, your teeth can go from white to not-so-bright, for many reasons.
Food and Drink
Coffee, tea and red wine are some major staining culprits. They have intense color pigments called chromogens that attach to the white, outer part of your tooth (enamel) and this causes discoloration.
Tobacco Use
There are two main chemicals in tobacco that cause tooth stains. Those chemicals are tar and nicotine. Tar is naturally dark and nicotine is colorless unless it’s mixed with oxygen. Then, it turns into a surface-staining substance makes the teeth yellow.
Below the hard, white outer shell of your teeth (enamel) is a softer area called dentin. Over time, the outer enamel layer gets thinner with brushing and more of the yellowish dentin shows through.
If you’ve been hit in the mouth, your tooth may change color because it reacts to an injury by laying down more dentin, which is a darker layer under the enamel.
Tooth darkening is a common side effect of many medications. Some of the medications that are associated with tooth discoloration include antihistamines, antipsychotics, high blood pressure medication, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Things you should consider before choosing a tooth bleaching method

Both in-office-based teeth bleaching or at-home teeth whitening options use peroxide-based bleaching agents. At-home systems contain from 3% to 20% peroxide (carbamide or hydrogen peroxides). In-office systems contain from 15% to 43% peroxide. Generally, the longer you keep a stronger solution on your teeth, the whiter your teeth become.

  • The higher the percentage of peroxide in the whitening solution, the shorter it should be applied to the teeth.
  • Keeping the gel on longer will dehydrate the tooth and increase tooth sensitivity.
  • Bleaching will not whiten porcelain crowns or composite tooth-colored bondings.
  • The ADA (American Dental Association) recommends that if you choose to use a bleaching product, you should only do so after consultation with a dentist.
  • A thorough oral examination, performed by a licensed dentist, is essential to determine if bleaching is an appropriate course of treatment, this is especially important for patients with many fillings, crowns, extremely dark stains and Individuals with periodontal (gum) 

Teeth-whitening with Dr.Bowyer in Vancouver, WA



First, it is important to me that you know that I carefully researched and considered all the professional teeth-whitening products on the market before selecting Zoom for my dental practice. I chose it because it uses a highly-developed, and innovative technology and gets superior results. Zoom is an advanced teeth-whitening treatment that can turn your teeth up to 8 shades whiter in only 45 minutes.


How does Zoom teeth-whitening work?

Our teeth are covered in tiny, microscopic pores or what are referred to as tubules. These pores are opened during the Zoom whitening process so that the whitening agent could penetrate deep into the teeth. It is not uncommon for sensitivity to occur after any teeth whitening treatment for a couple of days following the appointment. Since these tubules were opened, this also means that anything else that you expose your teeth to may irritate the teeth and cause some pain. It is also important to avoid anything that may cause immediate staining like tea, red wine, and berries for several days immediately following the whitening appointment. All that to be said, some people have more sensitivity than others.

Pros and Cons

Over the counter kits – Example: gel whitening strips


  • Very inexpensive 
  • Costs around $10-$55


  • Process must be applied for a longer period, sometimes twice daily for 10-14 days
  • Not as effective as professional methods

Take-home kits – Example: whitening trays


  • Less expensive than in-office professional treatments $10-$600
  • Easy to use
  • More thorough than over-the-counter kits and strips


  • Requires a dental professional to custom fit and manufacture the trays
  • Process must be repeated over 3 or more days for 30-60 minutes 

Professional Teeth Whitening – Example: Zoom treatments


  • Long lasting results in one short office visit 
  • No messy trays or chemicals


  • Costs a bit more, up to $1000
  • Requires a dental office visit

ADA: Tooth Whitening/Bleaching: Treatment Considerations for Dentists and their Patients 

Teeth bleaching is one of the most conservative and cost-effective dental treatments to improve or enhance a person’s smile. However, tooth bleaching is not risk-free and only limited long-term clinical data are available on the side effects of tooth bleaching. Accordingly, tooth bleaching is best performed under the professional supervision and following a pre-treatment dental examination and diagnosis. In consultation with the patient, the most appropriate bleaching treatment option(s) may be selected and recommended based on the patient’s lifestyle, financial considerations, and oral health. Patients considering OTC products should have a dental examination and should be reminded that they may unknowingly purchase products that may have little or no beneficial effect on the color of their teeth and may also have the potential to cause harm.